In one of my previous blog posts, I wrote about all the fundraising strategies that that I was hearing nonprofit professionals say weren’t worth the trouble—strategies that no longer seemed to be working.  In this post, I’d like to write a little about which strategies I see still working. Here are my top 5 favorite, most effective fundraising strategies:

  1. Major Gifts Programs: I wrote about this earlier, about how the many changes in patterns of giving in the US were necessitating major gifts programs, even in nonprofit organizations that traditionally haven’t had major gifts programs. Even if your organization can’t afford a “major gifts officer,” it is important for your organization to have professional staff members who know how to function like gift officers and who know how to engage in the high touch fundraising practices of major gift programs.
  2. Ask Events: These are large events—often breakfasts—which are invitation-only. They are events that have a $0 ticket price. Often the guests are invited by a “table captain” who is responsible for filling the table, preferably with guests who have already had an introduction to the benefitting organization. These events have very carefully scripted and orchestrated short programs that involve a formal invitation to make a gift to the organizing nonprofit. Guests are prepared for the ask. They come to the event knowing that they will be asked to make a gift. Over and over and over again, I have seen this formula work. I have witnessed organizations that have followed this model—made popular by Terry Axelrod and her Benevon Model—achieve fundraising results that far-surpass the results they’ve achieved through any other type of formal fundraising event (such as a gala).
  3. Planned Giving: Just like you don’t have to have a Major Gifts Officer to have a major gifts program, you don’t have to have a formal Planned Giving Program to ask for bequests and other “planned” gifts. Regularly reminding people that your organization can benefit from an gift in a will, life insurance, or 401k designation is essential and will, over time, result in planned gifts to your organization.
  4. Monthly Giving: Every once in a while, when I feel a need to trim the family budget, I look through my credit card statements at all of the charges that automatically recurring. We all quickly and easily sign up for a ton of things that have monthly costs. In the fundraising profession, when advocates for monthly giving first began pushing for monthly gifts, it seemed like it was a pretty-foreign concept to people. Today, not so much. Because everyone is now accustomed to signing up for Netflix, Spotify, and Hulu, and all their favorite software services and apps, every nonprofit organization should be asking for monthly gifts. They’ve become a widely accepted and painless way for people to help their favorite causes regularly.
  5. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: Many people give because a friend asks.  Enlist your fans to participate in peer-to-peer fundraising events. They can be wonderful ways to raise funds, but don’t mistakenly fall into the trap of thinking that a peer-to-peer website, once posted, will result in gifts streaming in—far from it! Peer-to-peer fundraising works and works well, but it works when there is a full-scale relationship development, volunteer organizing, and marketing effort behind it. Peer-to-peer—a favorite of mine since the days I worked with the Alzheimer’s Association in South Carolina—is a shoe-leather type of fundraising with committees and scads of volunteers. The website is only a small, visible piece of the process.

There are other things that still work and work well including grant writing, but these are five tried-and-true strategies that provide regular, ongoing, sustainable, and often unrestricted, funding for different types of nonprofits year over year. In my opinion, every fundraising program should have at least two or three of these strategies in their annual development plan.

Want to try one of these strategies for the first time in 2020? We can help! Contact Davis Nonprofit Consulting to discuss us helping your organization achieve success with one of these development strategies.

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